Summer means more time outdoors and in the sun. While this is often an enjoyable time with friends, family and activities, the heat and sun can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken – particularly for seniors.
Every day, your body works to maintain its normal temperature, but excessive heat pushes the body to work harder than normal. This is often the cause of heat-related illness, because your body is forced to work beyond its limits. Below are six summer safety tips for seniors and their caregivers to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable season.
Often the most overlooked, drinking plenty of water is the most effective way to stay cool in the summer heat. Seniors, however, are at a greater risk for dehydration, given the body loses its ability to conserve water as we age. It’s important to remember to drink water frequently, and also pack a bottle or two for any quick summer trips away from home.
- Keep cool.
For seniors coping with medical conditions, even minimal increases in temperature can be dangerous, and in some cases, life-threatening. On particularly hot days, make sure there is a cool place – whether inside with the air conditioner or fan, or at least in a shady spot – to sit and rest periodically.
Need a change of scenery? Movie theaters, shopping malls, and libraries all provide a welcome break from the heat.
- Dress appropriately.
Seniors should practice extra care with sun protection. In addition to sunscreen, a hat with a brim can further protect the head, face and eyes, and provides extra protection – particularly for those with light-colored or thinning hair. Don’t forget the sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun as well.
- Limit strenuous activity.
Because the body already works harder to keep cool in hot temperatures, adding taxing physical activity can be harmful, particularly for seniors. If your senior regularly exercises, try and plan these during the cooler hours of the day, and avoid doing so outside.
- Check in.
Because of the dangers of the heat for seniors, communication plays a key role in caring for aging adults. Seniors should let friends, family, or caregivers know if they plan to be outside for extended periods. Family members or caregivers should plan to check in with their loved ones twice each day.
- Know the signs.
The summer comes with increased risks for heat-related injury, so be aware of the symptoms of hyperthermia – a condition defined by abnormally high body temperatures. If a senior is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate attention.
- Body temperatures greater than 104 degrees
- Changes in behavior, such as acting agitated or confused
- Dry, reddened skin
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Heavy breathing or rapid pulse
- Absence of sweat, despite hot temperatures
If you have questions about senior safety – whether in the summer or year-round, 1776 Senior Care is here to help. We are your partners in caring for aging loved ones. Call 1776 Senior Care at 630.469.4515 and schedule an in-home assessment.